The Picky Girl
Just seen on concourse C at Denver International Airport, Rootdown will be opening a new location!!! You loved them and their sister restaurant in the Highlands, soon you can love it on the go. I might be willing to fly Delta more often if this location brings back the duck confit crepes! Even if the new location is only half as good as the original Rootdown, it will still be the most appetizing place in the entire airport!!! Looking forward to checking this out next time I travel.
The Picky Girl
Just when you thought the South Broadway neighborhood couldn't get any more hipster, here comes a rockabilly biker bar. Gary Lee's took a run down garage and renovated it into a funky industrial modern restaurant and bar. Everywhere you look there are amazing details like the bar taps made from the intake manifold and the grease rags as hand towels in the bathroom. On sheer ambiance this place is worth a visit, especially if you get a chance go on a night with live music. You'll feel like you slipped into the movie Cry Baby when a Betty Page look-a-like wails on that upright bass. The food is mostly a selection of smoked meats and hearty fair, when it comes to pub food Gary Lee's will satisfy. Combined with the overall concept, beer selection, and atmosphere it's worth your time and money.
One of the most popular appetizers is the smoked sausage platter. We've ordered it several times and each time it's a little different, the cheese and crackers obviously are obviously grocery store off the shelf, but that's okay because they are really just to accompany the meat. The exact sausages have varied every time we have ordered this plate, the only constant is spicy. Do not order this dish if you are looking for mild flavors. Even the sweeter meats will leave a searing aftershock in your mouth. The sausages had so much kick that The Picky Girl would only try two of the four types. The Pit on the other hand enjoys this starter in its entirety. In fact the lure of a big mound of spicy smoked sausage distracted him from other options. Next time the fried avocado will make it into his mouth.
The Picky View
I ordered the open faced chicken sandwich and was pretty happy with the results. The chicken had a good smoky flavor and nice char, it might have been too dry, except that the mashed potatoes and gravy kept it moist. The bun was light and fluffy with a golden brown toasting. The classic elements combined into a fairly tasty sandwich that was too messy to pick up and had to be eaten with a fork and knife. Like everything else at Gary Lee's the gravy was spicy which depending on your palate could be fantastic, for me it was a bit much. The fries were homemade, heavily seasoned (surprise), and the right amount of crispy. My only major qualm with the meal was that too many fries were piled into my sandwich. When you are craving a hearty, filling dish on a cold night this sandwich fits the bill nicely.
The Pit View
Slab of ribeye stake with caramelized onions and aioli, how could you go wrong? Well, if you slice the stake into strips to cook that's how. The flavors were on, but the texture wasn't quite what I was expecting. I suppose this was done to make the sandwich easier to eat, only for me It took away from the experience. The caramelized brussel sprouts that came on the side were pretty special. Mainly because these where the first that I actually devoured. Normally, I'm put off by the bitter bite of the sprouts, but the accompanying spaghetti squash and peppers brought enough sweet to the party resulting in a scrumptious bite.
As both math nerds and foodies, it is practically our duty to celebrate Pi(e) Day. For those of you uninitiated in the ways of Pi(e), let us help. In mathematical terms, Pi describes the relationship between a circles circumference and it's diameter. There is a long history of Pi and why it is necessary for engineering, architecture, mathematics, science, and general happiness.
In food terms, Pie is the substance the Pit will beg and plead for the Picky Girl to make for him. The Picky Girl's preferred pie to make is Alton Brown's Apple Pie recipe, however for this Pi(e) day she decided to take a risk and make her own recipe. The results you can see pictured above. (I like to think Alton Brown is giving his approving smile to say "Yep, I told you to put booze in that pie crust and it worked." Take a look at the recipe below if you want to try and make your own. Please note, picky girl baking is slightly random and disheveled so recipes are approximate. Lessen or add ingredients if it feels or tastes wrong to you.
Mixed Berry Chocolate Pie
1. Sift Sugar, Salt, Cocoa Powder, and Flour together in a bowl.
2. Chop the chilled butter and chilled shortening into small, half inch or so, pieces.
3. Add the butter and shortening to the dry ingredients and mix. I like to hand mix dough, but if you have a food processor or nice standing mixer that will probably be less messy.
4. Gradually, pour in the Whipped Cream Vodka, until the dough is cohesive, but not too sticky. If it's too dry add more Vodka, if it's too sticky add more flour, just be careful not to over work the dough.
5. Form the dough into a disk, cover, and refrigerate.
6. Wash the berries. Remove the tops from the tops from the Strawberries and quarter.
7. Gently combine the Blueberries, Strawberry pieces, Blackberries, Blueberries, and Sugar.
8. Preheat the oven to 425 F and grease a 9 1/2 inch pie pan.
9. Roll out the pie crust dough, liberally dusting with flour. (I completely stink at this activity. My best advice is that if you have a thin plastic cutting board, roll out on top of this and then flip onto the pie pan. Some people use wax paper, but I'm so bad at this I need something with more strength.)
10. If you're like me you will then spend the next few minutes fixing your imperfect crust, when finished gently scoop the berry sugar mixture inside, until level with the top of the pan. Pour the Whipped Cream Vodka over the filling.
11. Roll out the rest of the pie dough. Use a knife or pizza cutter to create 3/4 inch dough strips. Weave over the top of the pie. Use berry juice to join separate dough pieces.
12. Cover the pie pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and cook 10 more minutes.
13. Let the pie rest for 20 minutes, then go nom nom nom nom nom!
And now for your nerd enjoyment.
After several fabulous and food filled weeks in Belize we are back in Colorado and missing some of the unique tastes of the Carribbean. So now that we are settled back in our seafood deprived, yet entirely wonderful state of Colorado we wanted to share the most memorable meals from out trip.
Conch quite literally cover the ocean floor around Caye Caulker, and every restaurant cooks several versions of this large sea snail. The less skilled chef's made conch taste cheap and rubbery even if they could conjur a decent sauce. However, The Little Kitchen, a small and difficult to locate restaurant, made a mouth watering curry conch that highlighted the true potential of this delightful mollusk. The meat was cooked to tender, juicy perfection in a multidimensional curry sauce that had the perfect amount of kick.
Much like men, all meat pies are not created equal. The basic components are always the same; meat and seasoning baked in a pastry crust, still the choices and execution make the difference between mouth joy and eating disappointment. The juiciest, flakiest meat pies could be found at Gary's at the Belize Express Water Taxi Terminal in Belize City. Besides being baked to perfection with spicy beef, they are cheap, just a single Belize dollar (50 cents U.S.) per pie. Have a handful and enjoy the wait for your tour or boat.
Ceviche can be eaten just about anywhere in Central America and through all parts of the U.S. For those of you uninitiated with one of The Pit's favorite foods, let me tell you about ceviche. The basic component is raw fish, cured in a citrus sauce generally accompanied with onion, tomato, cilantro, chiles, or perhaps cucumber. (Picky Girl food nightmare!) Sometimes the fish is mixed or replaced with shrimp, lobster, or conch. The Pit ate ceviche at least once a day (sometimes twice or more) and never regretted it. He never met a fish he wouldn't eat! If you are lucky enough to live near quality seafood here's a link to a tasty Belizean ceviche.
If we were on UHF's Wheel of Fish, we would most certainly want to win Red Snapper. We selected this fish off the catch of the day tray and it was grilled whole for us with a peppery Papaya seasoning at Rose's Grill and Bar. The Picky Girl is a little finicky about what fish she will eat and she quickly devoured this Snapper. The fish was thick, juicy and savory with not a hint of that "fishy" aftertaste. The pinbones were a little challenging to eat around, but completely worth the effort.
Sorry for the lack of posts the past few months. Between work, school, traveling and our innate laziness we just haven't been able to find the time and motivation to write. But now we are back on the interwebs! For our joint birthdays/anniversary (May is a busy month for us) we took a trip to Florida and we ate at The Three Broomsticks at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and enjoy some serious blue crabs in Homosassa.
We went to Homosassa to enjoy some freshwater diving, swim with the local manatees and get some good seafood in between. We enjoyed the local blue crab specialty at the Riverside Crab House. Blue crabs are a sweet crab most often served whole. Since each crab is about the size of your plate, eating them is a very labor intensive event. We enjoyed a steaming, delicious bucket with both the regular seasoning and the garlic crabs. Despite our frustration at removing the edible tastiness from the shell, gills, and other muck, I would recommend getting a bucket whenever you have a chance. And here is a video to help you succeed where we failed at crab meat extraction.
And when we finished up on the coast we headed to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Why? Because in addition to being foodies we are hardcore nerds! We of course ate at The Three Broomsticks. The menu was small and reminiscent of the typical English pub food with a bit of renaissance fare mixed in; Sheperd's pie, fish n' chips, turkey legs. We got the half chicken and the chicken and ribs. They were certainly a step up over typical amusement park fare, but nothing too special.
The Pit's chicken was dry and the Picky Girl's corn lacked sweetness and season. The butterbeer was a different story. We highly recommend that you get the frozen butterbeer, it somehow freezes out the overly sucrose taste that overwhelms the regular butterbeer. The frozen butterbeer had a sweet butterscotch taste and it was nice that they added the frothy topping separate. Frankly, it won't matter what we say because if you are actually at Harry Potter World, you are going to get a butterbeer no matter what. Otherwise, what's the point? Oh and to keep it PG there is no alcohol content, so don't expect to get schnockered off the stuff. If you can't make the trip to Orlando or are scared of freakish crowds, you can try this recipe at home.
I love me some Judy Greer! You know that chick who played the sister/friend/sidekick in every romantic comedy ever made or you may know her as Cheryl the neurotic, skanky, secretary from Archer. And if you still don't know her well let me introduce her. Judy recently started hosting these really fun webisodes called Reluctantly Healthy where she learns about nutrition, fitness and general health while maintaining a charming disdain for the entire process. Here is the one about how to shop healthy at the grocery store. Enjoy!
Denver Restaurant Week starts this Saturday! If you don't have your reservations go get some! $52.80 for a fine dining experience for two! The selection isn't as good as last year but the list of participating restaurants still has some amazing gems...
It's Fat Tuesday and besides public indecency and excessive drinking, it is time for King Cake! I like my King Cake unfilled and basic. Here is a nice recipe for King Cake and some other Mardi Gras favorites if you want to go it on your own. Or if you are lazy like me the Colorado King Sooper's makes a surprisingly cheap and tasty King Cake.
Tomorrow is National Margarita Day and Westword is holding a contest to win $100 of free tacos and margaritas from Pica's Mexican Taqueria in Boulder. Or follow these instructions from the folks at Taste Terminal to make your own Margaritas.
Scientists are now making hamburger in a lab and it is all over the news. Would you eat it? I'd like to see the blind taste test between clinically produced moo-cow and the regular ole supermarket kind. It makes me squeamish on principal, but in actuality it could provide a lot of environmental benefits.
If you have every read this blog you would know we are not vegetarians or health freaks by a long shot. However, we worry about the hormones, preservatives and chemicals in the foods we pruchase and frankly we could both eat a thousand times healthier. Like most Americans we want to enjoy our culinary experience and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. And while it's no secret that vegetables are better for you than a batch of cookies a new documentary is trying to prove a direct link between diet and practically every major medical problem. Forks Over Knives is advocating a plant based whole foods diet to prevent and reverse obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and any other horrible prognosis you can image. While this Picky Girl and Bottomless Pit are certainly not ready to give up our steak and cheese, we do want to try and integrate more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet. And as science nerds we are interested in the details behind the medical study that supports the Forks Over Knives claim. Regardless of your particular diet credo, this movie looks like interesting viewing and you should check it out when it comes to Denver on May 20th. (Theater TBD, but probably The Mayan or The Esquire or one of the independent theaters.)
Euclid Hall has had great word of mouth, so great in fact that it finally overcame our aversion of downtown parking and hipsters and we gave this place a shot. And was it every worth it. Euclid Hall plays on an eclectic set of themes including it's namesake mathematician, the collegiate dorm, it's buildings Colorado gangster history, and German, American and Canadian food staples and despite the conflicting themes it all merges together into a seamlessly perfect dining experience. Oh yeah, and the food is freaking delicious.
It's Friday night and we must start with drinks. I got the Young's Double Chocolate Stout, great for a cold winter night when you need a sweet, creamy pickup to warm you from the inside out. The beer, wine and spirits list was fairly extensive and there is a good chance they have something that will satisfy the alcoholic in all of us.
I started out the food portion of my evening with oysters. I love me some oysters, just raw and on the half shell. Squeeze a lemon, add some tabasco sauce and I call it heaven. In this case, the accompanying sauce was tabasco based, but had it's own unique character that highlighted my succulent mollusks. Judging from the freshness of the oysters you would think we were sitting at a restaurant at a harbor, not three thousand miles from the nearest ocean.
My wife says that the Hops Infused Pickles were my second appetizer, but I fervently maintain this is just a nice palate cleanser. My first experience with this kind of pickle and I must say it was a pleasant one. They were crunchy, briny goodness with a level of savory and bitter from the hops. And at a $1.50 a plate, no pickle lover should pass this up, or you can try all four pickle flavors for $6.
For my main dish I had the Duck Duck Goose Poutine. If you are not familiar with poutine it is about the only good thing to come out of Canada. (I joke, no Canuck hate mail please!) It's basically a fancified set of cheese and gravy smothered fries. In this case, Euclid Hall made it even fancier with a fried duck egg, duck gravy and foie gras. Perhaps you could make this a richer meal, I'm just not sure how. It was amazingness in my mouth. I am a little speechless to describe the creamy, buttery, yumminess. The foie gras was melt in your mouth with a hint of char. The cheddar curds blended into the gravy in a freaky good way. This sounds hokey so I am going to stop trying to describe this to you and tell you to just go order one for yourself.
For my only appetizer and The Pit's third appetizer, we got the chips and dip. This is nothing like typical bar food chips and dip. The homemade Kennebec chips were covered in a lemon, goat cheese and sprinkled with dill. The main event was the two type duck, a standard duck confit and the frozen oolong tea smoked duck breast. Normally, I cringe at dishes that mix hot and cold food. I think chef's who provide you extreme temperature ranges in a single plate must be in cahoots with the local dentists. This dish proved to be more than gastronomic fluffery and delivered on taste, texture and taste. If you've read this blog before you know I love duck and this certainly didn't disappoint. I licked the plate clean and was sad there wasn't more.
I got the camembert and pear preserves sandwich for dinner and it was Picky Girl heaven! I love simple foods prepared extremely well! In this case, a grilled cheese with pear spread. And the side salad was nothing more than juicy red grapes with some basil shavings. I ate the whole salad instead of picking around whatever random vegetables the chef decides needs to ruin my dinner. If you are looking for a complex meal choose something else, if you want elegant simplicity this is the dish for you.
For dessert we split the ice cream sandwich. The butterscotch ice cream was sweet with a hint of salty. The waffle was okay, but we both would have preferred a buttermilk waffle versus the sourdough one they used. In all fairness, we are not the biggest champions of sourdough. Overall, the meal was fabulous and we look forward to sampling more theorems derived by the culinary mathematicians at Euclid Hall.
Besides being an amateur foodie, this Picky Girl is a serious bibliophile and when my passion for reading collides with my stomach than I am indeed a happy camper. Cook-A-Doodle-Doo by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel is one of those places when food and reading merge into what could become a perfect weekend tradition with your kids. (Or surrogate kids for those of us who haven't yet added breeder to our resumes.) The story follows an adorable Rooster who teaches his animal friends to cook while making a scrumptious Strawberry Shortcake. The story meshes the recipe and plot together so seamlessly that kids will love helping you bake in the kitchen. The little ones can lean the basics of measuring, sifting and mixing while you spend some quality family time and get a mouthwatering dessert all at the same time. And the book is incredibly realistic about cooking, when the whole animal team makes a catastrophe of the first attempt, I'm sure you'll remember at least one kitchen mishap of your own. Or maybe I am the only one who learns to cook via epic failure... And of course I have to mention the local connection, the book's illustrator Janet Stevens is a graduate of the University of Colorado. I guess this means combining three things I love: eating, reading and all things Colorado.